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On the Charts: Zac Brown Band and Frank Ocean Duke It Out

Plus: Will EDM conquer single sales next?

Frank Ocean performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella
July 18, 2012 2:10 PM ET

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Fans of chart cage matches. On the traditional sales charts, Zac Brown Band's Uncaged was the clear winner over Frank Ocean's super-hyped Channel Orange. The country-rock jam band hit Number One with 234,000 copies sold, dwarfing the R&B singer's 131,000. Neither act gets a ton of Toop 40 radio play, so both relied on marketing tricks. Amazon priced Uncaged at $3.99 for almost an entire week, and Billboard estimates the sale accounted for 25,000 to 35,000 units. Also, Brown put out an awesome cartoon video for "The Wind," drawn and directed by "Beavis and Butthead" creator Mike Judge, which drew 227,000 YouTube views. Ocean, by contrast, went full grassroots (well, with the help of iTunes). Unknown to the mainstream  until a few weeks ago, he followed his viral declaration that his first love was a man by rushing Channel Orange onto iTunes, where it hit Number One, compared to Brown's Number Two.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Teenage Dream. Note that we didn't say Katy Perry in general. Her two-year-old album had surged to Number Two last week, after gaining 417 percent in sales thanks to a one-day Amazon MP3 deal for 99 cents. It sank this week, selling just 34,000 (a drop of 58 percent) and falling from Number Two to Number Nine on the Billboard album chart. But this week's data proves what we've known for a long time about Perry – she's a singles artist, not an album artist. "Wide Awake" sold 205,000 this week, leapfrogging Carly Rae Jepsen's dominant "Call Me Maybe" to Number One. It wouldn't surprise us if Perry and Jepsen – and maybe Pink, whose splendidly titled "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" rose from Number 41 to Number Four this week – battle it out all year on the singles chart.

WHEN WILL THE CHARTS GET ELECTRONICIZED? Track sales for electronic dance music (Skrillex, Avicii, Kaskade, Afrojack and the rest) have jumped more than 65 percent in 2012, significantly higher than any other genre, according to Nielsen Soundscan's recent mid-year report. "[Major radio stations] realize it's not just a fad, it's not going away, it's got a huge following, and at the end of the day, these are the future listeners of their services," Dean Wilson, Deadmau5's manager, told us recently. But it's weird – aside from David Guetta's "Titanium," Ellie Goulding's sort-of-electronic "Lights" and a few others, not many in the genre are notching major U.S. chart hits. Maybe that will change with slow-burners like Calvin Harris' "Let's Go" – the track just jumped 16 spots to Number 32 on the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria. EDM took over concerts and festivals a long time ago; a single sales surge seems inevitable.

LAST WEEK: Big Moves for Chris Brown, Frank Ocean

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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